WWII airman’s remains finally returned to family after 78 years

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He’s finally going home.

The remains of an airman whose plane was shot down over Romania during World War II are being returned to his family after 78 years, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

U.S. Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. Alfred “Fred” Turgeon, of Cordova, Alaska, was just 23 when he was killed in a mission that came to be known as “Operation Tidal Wave.”

He was one of hundreds of airmen who died during the daylight bombings of Nazi oil refineries in Romania.

Turgeon and nine others from his plane perished after their aircraft came under fire.

Because his remains had gone unidentified for so long, Turgeon’s mother and older sister always prayed he’d escaped death, nephew David Bass told the newspaper.

“They always held out hope that perhaps he was in a prisoner of war camp or that he had amnesia and didn’t know who he was and was alive in Europe — the same kind of thing I’m sure that probably every mother who lost someone in World War II was hoping,” Bass said.

The nephew got a call about Turgeon’s remains week ago from the U.S. Department of Defense’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

“It was a really emotional moment for all of us,” he said.

The agency used DNA from Bass and other relatives to identify the remains. Turgeon is to be buried in Washington state with full military honors, next to his older sister.

“It’s a great closure for us as a family,” Bass said. “I wish that my mom was still alive to be able to see it.”

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